Taking Care of Business: Hospitality Trade Shows

April 2, 2019
Andrew Doerfler
Voiced by Amazon Polly

In the hospitality industry, the customer is king. The owners and operators of hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs are constantly seeking new ways to enhance the guest experience. Hospitality trade shows help these industry professionals connect with the latest products and services so they can stay relevant in a competitive field.

You don’t want to miss out - exhibiting at hospitality trade shows could be the key to reaching eager buyers you're having trouble reaching. Whether you sell in-demand food products or the most innovative hospitality technology, there are industry expos and conferences that offer opportunities to grow your business.

The Advantages of Hospitality Trade Shows

The top hospitality trade shows draw tens of thousands of guests every year to engage with the restaurant and hotel industry’s movers and shakers and see the latest trends. Events like the National Restaurant Association Show, Nightclub & Bar Show, and HD Expo are yearly destinations for the industry’s leading ownership groups, management companies, and entrepreneurs.

Getting your brand in front of hospitality professionals at a trade show can have a major impact. At HD Expo, a leading event for hospitality design, 94 percent of attendees found new products that they had never seen before, and 73 percent said that seeing a product at the expo was very influential in their purchasing decisions. Last year, $3.2 million was the average planned spend with HD Expo’s exhibitors.

From the exhibitors’ perspective, 78 percent of HD Expo exhibitors surveys said that trade shows “are very effective in reaching target job titles and company decision makers.” A vast majority also say that trade shows are valuable for managing relationships with accounts, gaining new leads and engaging with prospective customers.  

Who Attends Hospitality Trade Shows

Who Attends Hospitality Trade Shows

Not every hospitality trade show draws the same crowd: The demographics at an expo will vary based on its focus, location, size and many other factors. For a potential exhibitor, it’s important to research the visitor profile of a trade show to guarantee your message will reach the right people, whether that means top hotel brands or popular chain restaurants.

For example, the Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas, one of the top hospitality trade shows in the United States, usually sees attendance of about 35,000 people. As you might expect, the show draws a much higher proportion of representatives from drinking establishments than other hospitality shows. At their most event, this was the breakdown of the visitors by industry:

  • Bars, pubs, taverns and lounges: 36.5 percent
  • Nightclubs: 25.2 percent
  • Restaurants and chains: 13.4 percent
  • Sports bars and grilles: 9.3 percent
  • Casinos, resorts and hotels: 4 percent
  • Media: 1.4 percent
  • Other, such as country clubs and cruises: 7.2 percent

Decision Makers at Hospitality Trade Shows

Another factor to consider when exhibiting at a trade show is the attendees’ level of influence. At the Nightclub & Bar Show, 91 percent of attendees play a role in purchasing power. Of them, 53 percent have the final say, while 38 percent make recommendations or influence decisions.

The attendees at the expo have the following job titles:

  • Owner, president, CEO or partner: 51.6 percent
  • Manager, director or general manager: 33.4 percent
  • Full-time bartender or mixologist: 10 percent
  • Others, such as DJ, chef, waitstaff or security: 5 percent

More than half of the attendees have 10 years or more of experience in the industry. If a trade show can claim attendees with this level of industry experience and buying power, you can be more confident that your trade show exhibit will be a worthwhile investment.

These shows offer unrivaled networking opportunities to engage with successful bar and hotel owners and property managers. It’s a great way to find new ways to reach new clients from hotels, motels, restaurants and bars.

Top Hospitality Industry Trade Shows in North America

top hospitality trade shows

With so many different facets of the hospitality industry, it can be hard to figure out which trade show is right for you. A good starting point is to look at the biggest and most influential trade shows. The top hospitality expos and conferences reliably attract major players and engaged crowds. Here are a few of the most important trade shows in the hospitality sector.

National Restaurant Association Show

Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America, plays host to the restaurant industry’s foremost event in the United States. Nearly 100 years old, the show brings together 65,000 people in the foodservice industry for four days of special exhibits, food and drink demos, speakers and presentations, networking opportunities and more.

Nightclub & Bar Show

Held every March at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Nightclub & Bar Show is the self-proclaimed “largest marketplace for the multi-billion dollar bar and nightlife industry.” The event draws about 35,000 people, with more than 50 countries represented.

For more than 30 years, the trade show has been a destination for businesses seeking the latest in bar supplies, beer and cider, spirits, entertainment & gaming, bar furniture and decor, stage sound and lighting equipment and more.

HD Expo

More than 12,500 attendees from 40 countries gather at this yearly event in Las Vegas. The show focuses on the latest technology and trends in the hospitality design field. Guests include designers, developers, purchasing firms, and owners. More than 800 exhibitors showcased their products and services at the most recent event.

Taking Care of Business: Hospitality Trade Shows 1

Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo

The hottest trends in food, drink and dining are on show at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, held annually for three days in Los Angeles. The show attracts more than 9,000 industry professionals with its exhibits and special programs focused on topics like coffee, cocktails, fermentation, vegetarian cuisine and more.

The Hotel Experience (HX)

The former International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show rebranded recently to become the Hotel Experience, The hotel industry convenes to see new trends and technologies that can streamline their businesses and improve guests’ experiences. The show says that it hosts 12,000 attendees and 400 exhibitors.

More Hospitality Trade Shows

The trade shows above are just a small selection of events that have a major impact on the hospitality industry. Here are a few other major events to consider, both in North America and overseas:

  • Restaurants Canada (RC)
  • FHC China (Food & Hotel China)
  • Inspire Summit
  • International Bar and Beverage Trade Show
  • Food and Hotel Thailand (FHT)
  • Sleep + Eat

Shipping to Hospitality Trade Shows

When planning to exhibit at a hospitality trade show, don’t forget one of the most important steps of the process: Getting your booth display materials to the event safely and on time. The process can be complicated -- every trade show has different requirements for shipments.

The experienced trade show shipping team at R+L Global Logistics has the know-how to get your items to the show without a hitch. R+L offers packing, warehousing, white glove delivery, debris removal, and more, and sets itself apart with on-call, 24/7 customer service. To get in touch with an R+L Global representative today, use the chat feature or call 866-415-8986.

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